Late Monday night, Politico reported there was a draft decision circulating in the yet-undecided U.S. Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — a case involving state abortion restrictions in Mississippi.
The draft, written by Justice Samuel Alito and reportedly the majority opinion, would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that effectively legalized abortion across the country. Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the opinion’s authenticity Tuesday.
In a phone interview, an emotional U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan said reading the court’s leaked opinion on Monday night was a “gut punch.”
“A woman’s body is her own business and the opinion published last night goes directly against that,” Trahan said on Tuesday. “If this decision is released in the coming week, tens of millions of women in Republican-controlled states across our country will lose access to life-saving reproductive care. In some states, women who were victims of rape or incest will be banned from seeking abortion and forced to carry pregnancies to term.”
Overturning Roe v. Wade will not stop abortions, Trahan said. Instead, people in states where it becomes outlawed will be forced to seek them in potentially dangerous and life-threatening situations.
“As a woman, I’m horrified. As a mom of two young girls, I’m terrified. I think more than anything else, I’m pissed off. And I think I share that sentiment with so many women who are ready to fight to support a woman’s right to choose because we’re unwilling to go backward.”
Trahan said it was time for action at the federal level. She pointed to a vote taken by the House of Representatives in September that passed the Women’s Health Protection Act. If passed, the bill would codify Roe v. Wade and protect abortion access on a federal level.
However, the legislation has been filibustered by Republicans in the Senate and a cloture vote in February failed 46-48.
Trahan said it was time to explore every option available including ending the filibuster, imposing term limits for federal judges, and potentially expanding the number of Supreme Court justices.
“I don’t know a single woman who prioritizes preserving an archaic, outdated procedure like the filibuster over her freedom to make decisions about her own body,” Trahan said.
Sharing Trahan’s sentiment is state Rep. Vanna Howard. While nothing is set to change in Massachusetts if the decision is final, she said the state should be mobilizing and looking to help women in other states.
“My strong opinion on this is that the anti-abortion movement comes down to men wishing to control what women should do with their bodies,” Howard said. “They do not consider the health of the women or the health of the baby. Whether the baby goes to good schools after they’re born or have good health care or life in a safe home. Their concern for the baby starts at conception and ends at birth.”
Howard was emphatic that an abortion is a personal decision and should stay between a woman and her doctor, not the government.
State Rep. Natalie Higgins said the decision was one she saw coming. However, “it doesn’t make today any easier.”
“This is why we fought so tirelessly to pass The ROE Act last session. While Massachusetts will continue to protect our residents’ access to safe abortion care, we have a lot of work ahead of us to protect pregnant people, across the country, who will face extraordinary barriers in their home states,” Higgins said.
The reported Supreme Court decision also drew scrutiny from U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern.
“If true, this is a disgrace. The backward, dystopian GOP wants to put politicians in charge of whether or not you can get an abortion,” McGovern said in a tweet, adding his support of eliminating the filibuster and passing the Women’s Health Protection Act.
In a statement, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton said the decision “would take women’s rights back 50 years and put millions in danger by bringing back unsafe back-alley abortions.”
“Decisions like this are the result of a politicized Supreme Court that puts ideology ahead of our constitutional rights. Rest assured, we will work to correct this injustice if it is carried out,” Moulton added.
After the news broke, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan wrote on Twitter, “Abortion is a fundamental right. Reports of this draft opinion are both appalling and, tragically, unsurprising. We must continue to do everything in our power to protect and expand access to abortion in our Commonwealth and our nation.”
Since the Politico story was published, the looming repeal of Roe v. Wade has also become part of the Democratic and Republican races for governor.
State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, said the move was “unsurprising” and “the fall of Roe has been the goal of conservatives for years.”
“We must do everything we can to expand access to abortion and ensure Massachusetts shines bright as a sanctuary for those seeking care both in and out of state,” Chang-Diaz said in a statement.
“If SCOTUS does overturn Roe, it would upend families and rob patients of their bodily autonomy. Massachusetts will be a leader across this country and stand for compassion, care, and respect when others won’t,” Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democratic governor candidate, said on social media.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl and lieutenant governor candidate Leah Allen issued a joint statement in which they said, “We both believe in and reaffirm the need to protect human life wherever and whenever possible.” They called the Massachusetts Roe Act, which passed over Baker’s veto, “a radical move too far by state legislators here in our state.”
Republican candidate businessman Chris Doughty said in a statement that he would not “seek any changes to our state’s abortion laws.”
“The right to abortion is enshrined in the Massachusetts constitution,” he said. “I am running to focus on making our state more affordable for our citizens and our job creators.”
Boston Herald reporter Sean Philip Cotter contributed to this report.